Swinerton In the News
Swinerton Builders Colorado: September 04, 2014
Byers School Reopens in Speer Area in Denver After $19 Million Rehab
After 10 years of sitting vacant in the middle of the Speer neighborhood, Byers Middle School is open again and serving students after a major renovation project.
The school, 150 S. Pearl St., officially reopened on Aug. 25 with students from the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) roaming the halls.
A $19 million renovation project began shortly after voters approved a $466 million bond for Denver Public Schools in November 2012. The focus was to get the school ready for students in time for school to start. Some non-essential areas, such as the gym locker rooms, are still under construction.
"For all of us, it's a sense of pride to bring this school back to the original intent, which is to serve kids in the community," said Christine Nelson, chief of staff for DSST. The school has six campuses and nine schools operating as charter schools throughout Denver.
The DSST Byers school started last year and was set up at the Calvary Temple church, 200 S. University Blvd. Approximately 300 sixth- and seventh-grade students moved into the Byers school and it will add a grade every year until the first senior class is ready to graduate in 2020.
This year, the facility is also hosting Bromwell Elementary School while its building is undergoing renovations. The elementary school is using the north side of the building that will hold the DSST high school when it opens in 2016.
Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt, who represents the area, said the community rallied to get the school activated once again and it will be an asset to the neighborhood.
"We used to have an empty building slowly decaying in the middle of a neighborhood," he said. "Now we have one of the best schools in Denver in the middle of the neighborhood and the restoration of a historic building in the process."
The school was originally dedicated in 1921 and housed a middle school until the late 1990s. The school has not been used since 2004 when Denver School of the Arts — which was using the building as a temporary home — moved into its permanent location.
The renovated building is fully equipped with 21st-century technology while still maintaining its 1920s look outside. Inside, there are still remnants of the old facility as the staircases have two sets of hand railings; one side brand new and the other the original from 1921.
"I think it's one of those great old buildings," Denver Public Schools chief operating officer David Suppes said.
DSST had approached Denver Public Schools hoping to open a new campus in the area and identified the school as a potential home, according to Nelson. The creation of the campus was contingent on the 2012 bond passing and the renovations, which were done by Swinerton Builders.
School director Brad White noted that students entered with dropped jaws on their first day Aug. 25. The staff spent the better part of a week moving equipment over from Calvary Temple and other DSST campuses. The school also added 11 new faculty members this year and will add more every year until the school has all six grades.
"It's a beautiful space," White said. "One where (the students are) going to grow academically, socially and emotionally a great deal this year."
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